This month the session for the adolescents living with HIV (vetri kootam) was on reflecting and valuing the relationships around them. It has always been a challenging experience for young people living with HIV, in overcoming the fear due to self stigma and finding good relationships that helps them handle the fear and creating sense of self respect.
Prior to the discussion on relationship around them, the young people shared their experiences of opening up their HIV status to their close friends. Three of them have recieved positive support one of the three; sheela expressed "I was always scared about sharing my HIV status to my friend, and after the previous month support group meeting I took the courage to share my status and was surprised to receive a supportive response from her. She is more closer and more concerned about me now and I am very happy about it".
Later the discussion on the various relationships and the levels of influence each relationships have were discussed. The majority, especially orphan young people have valued the center based support group as their source of support and motivation. On discussing what they have gained from the cherished relationships, it has been love and encouragement, especially when they have felt lonely and depressed. The session became very emotional, when the orphan young boys expressed that their complete source of encouragement has been the support group.
Hari expressed, "Being a complete orphan is a challenging one, esepcially growing into an young adult. The realtives who showed care, now seemed to be more opportunistic, especially in taking custody over a piece of land that is in my mother's name. For me, now it is the freinds here and the center, is building me and giving me a focus about life."
The day ended with the young people cutting a cake in celebrating the friendly relationships that they have gained through the support group. Among the 15 participants, majority are complete orphan young people and the others are under the care of widow mothers.
The support group, vetri kootam is organised every month at Buds of Christ center and is impacting the lives of young people living with HIV to set higher goals and lead life positively. This programme is supported by Global Giving through the Care and support for adolescents living with HIV. We thank the donors for making the change in the lives of these young people living with HIV.